Television: Still Your Grandfather's PBS

Masterpiece Theatre returns to its origins with a Forsyte Saga that's lush, well acted--and stale

In 1969, when PBS aired the Forsyte Saga--a 26-part Victorian-Edwardian mini-series based on John Galsworthy's novels--it was revolutionary. Years before The Sopranos, it showed Americans that TV could tell stories as novels do. Its success led PBS to create Masterpiece Theatre--it was the soap that launched a thousand bustles. To say that remaking the show now is not quite so daring is kind. To be unkind--and honest--it only bolsters the criticism that PBS these days is redundant and irrelevant.

PBS argues that its documentary and public-service work is very relevant. And it argues that its tame entertainment programming is valuable because...

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